US, take knee off AfDB’s neck; Adesina has been vindicated

Posted by News Express | 7 June 2020 | 1,086 times

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•Adesina and international human rights lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe with Chibok girls in Washington

By EMMANUEL OGEBE

We are gratified to learn that the African Development Bank (AfDB)’s Board of Governors reaffirmed the exoneration of President Adesina and declined America’s demand that the Ethics clearance report be disregarded.

We wish to note as follows, even without having access to the hundreds of pages of Mr Adesina’s rebuttal brief, that:

One of the whistle blower allegations was that Mr. Adesina went to receive global awards at the bank’s “expense.” (Complaint #10). However although the bank staff clearly make travel arrangements as Mr Adesina does not do so personally,                                                                                                                                a. the  whistleblowers did not provide any evidence/exhibits to show that he indeed used bank resources to travel.                                                        

  1. In his defense, Mr Adesina maintained that the institution that gave him the awards and his friends covered the related expenses. We find this submission credible because prestigious institutions do not generally impose upon honorees the cost of attending investiture consistent with global best practices.                    
  2. Mr Adesina donated the almost $1 million he received in multiple awards to charitable causes and could very well have used it for his transportation if he lacked it.                                d. That even if he had used the bank’s funds for the trip, the highest sanction that would have occurred is for the travel department to bill him for the said travel. Denying him another term on the basis of this minuscule issue is outlandish, perverse and unconscionable.                                                     e. The awards indeed brought great prestige to the bank and in a decent environment, more so an African one, there should have been a communal spirit of joy and elation that an illustrious son had garnered for the continent. That it instead engendered hate, suspicion, resentment and accusations is wholly indicative of the pettiness, shallowness and malice of the contrived accusations.    

Other complaints generally were that numerous Nigerians were hired.                                                                         a. Nigeria is the top shareholder of the AfDB which is a multilateral institution. Can you imagine if World Bank staff in DC complained that there were too many American staff in the World Bank? Nigeria is the major shareholder but not exclusive appointer of the AfDB Presidency. However the US is the exclusive appointer of the World Bank President despite its being a multilateral Bretton Woods institution. This was why renowned Nigerian World Banker Ngozi Okonjo Iweala though highly qualified never made president but only VP due to her not being American.                                                                 

  1. One in five Africans is Nigerian and based on continental demography alone, preponderance of Nigerians is not unusual.                                        c. In terms of human capital development, Nigeria is also a leader as the most educated group in America. Last week, over 100 Nigerians graduated from Harvard constituting over 70% of the African graduates.                                                  
  2. The complaint did not state that the Nigerians were not qualified as they were quintessentially world class talents attracted by Mr Adesina’s extensive global pedigree                 e. It is pathetic that bank staff would engage in a xenophobic attack on the president in a manner akin to the killings of Africans in South Africa last year. If as has been reported, this was engineered by an American director, then it smacks of undercover racism. As Chris Cooper said of his Central Park racial scapegoating recently, “I’m not going to participate in my dehumanization”
  3. With regard to the larger issue that this was a petty personality clash between American director Dowd which was elevated to international policy by the US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, the following ethical, constitutional and legal violations are in the public domain concerning Mr Mnuchin himself:
  4. “Scandal: Mnuchin under federal investigation for failing to analyze GOP tax scam

By Matthew Chapman - December 1, 2017 8:54 AM1629

... Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin lied about the GOP tax plan, and he lied about launching a study of it. Now he is under investigation by his own department.

The Senate’s scam to raise taxes on almost 90 million middle-class families to pay for massive breaks and loopholes for billionaires and corporations has hit unexpected stumbling blocks, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell frantically rewriting the bill hours before a vote.

But Senate Republicans are not the only ones struggling to make their plan work.

Donald Trump’s top official in charge of the effort, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, is now facing an investigation from his own department following claims he lied to the public, and to lawmakers, about an analysis of the tax scheme.

Mnuchin has repeatedly claimed that analysis by the Treasury Department shows the proposed Republican tax breaks for the wealthy would pay for themselves, by inducing companies to invest in jobs and capital that will grow the overall tax base.

But whistleblowers in the Treasury’s Office of Tax Analysis told The New York Times on Thursday that the “analysis” Mnuchin has touted to support the GOP proposal does not exist. He has not directed his department to even do the work that he claimed they were doing.

Following the Times report, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren sent a furious letter to the Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General, demanding answers.

“Either the Treasury Department has used extensive taxpayer funds to conduct economic analyses that it refuses to release because those analyses would contradict the Treasury Secretary’s claims, or Secretary Mnuchin has grossly misled the public about the extent of the Treasury Department’s analysis,” she wrote. “I am deeply concerned about either possibility.”

Treasury Inspector General Eric Thorson agreed. On Warren’s request, he has opened a probe into whether Mnuchin’s study exists.

Incidentally, Mnuchin’s claims that the tax plan will spur investment are at odds with numerous CEOs who willingly admit that, if the tax bill becomes law, they will pass the untaxed profits directly to shareholders – not to workers, as Trump and his fellow Republicans have insisted.

Moreover, an analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation finds that even if the plan does grow the economy, it will still add $1 trillion to the deficit.

It is one thing for Republicans to be irrationally optimistic about trickle-down economics, which has defined their policy for decades, despite its obvious failure. But it is quite another for Republicans to falsify or cover up information to defend their plan. This takes the tax scheme from the realm of bad policy to the realm of public scandal, and the American people deserve immediate answers...”

  1. “The treasury secretary has done plenty of sketchy to unlawful things on his own, in apparent service of his own interests. Whether helping himself or his boss, he’s accumulated a remarkable list of grifting accomplishments:
  • Before Mnuchin’s confirmation he acknowledged that he had failed to disclose to the Senate Finance Committee nearly $100 million in assets, as well as his role as a director of an investment fund incorporated in the Cayman Islands, a notorious tax shelter.
  • As part of that confirmation process, Mnuchin lied to Congress: He denied that under his management, OneWest Bank – an institution that specialized in foreclosures in the aftermath of the financial crisis – had participated in the practice of “robo-signing” foreclosure documents without doing the necessary diligence. Contrary to Mnuchin’s Senate testimony, a former vice president of OneWest testified in court that she signed 750 foreclosure documents a week without reviewing many of them; that she took 30 seconds per document; and that she had “changed my signature considerably” to accommodate her OneWest signing practices, adding that “it’s just an E now.” It’s worth noting that shortly after Mnuchin entered office, the bank offered $89 million to settle claims that it had abused the foreclosure process. Just one example of that abuse involved the firm’s attempts to foreclose on the home of a 90-year-old woman who had made a 27-cent payment error. Mnuchin and his fellow investors, for their parts, made $1.6 billion in the 2009 deal to take over the failed bank that would become OneWest, and Mnuchin personally took a $10.9 million payout after OneWest merged with a different bank in 2015.
  • Mnuchin was chastised in early 2017 by career ethics officials for violating laws against self-dealing when he promoted The Lego Batman Movie, which was financed by his production company.
  • Earlier this year, that same federal ethics watchdog agency refused to certify Mnuchin’s 2018 financial disclosure after it learned that he had “sold” his stake in a film production business to his then-fiancée and current wife, Louise Linton. This “sale” came after Mnuchin signed an ethics agreement promising to divest from the company.
  • Linton was a key player in a separate scandal involving the secretary. In 2017, she posted Instagram photos of herself disembarking from a military plane in Kentucky just prior to a solar eclipse, including the hashtags for high-end fashion brands that she was wearing at the time. When a mother of three from Portland, Oregon, posted a comment on Linton’s Instagram page expressing dismay over the fact that taxpayers had funded what seemed like a personal glamour trip, Linton responded:

‘Aw!!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day “trip” than you did.’

What great #patriotism!

Linton’s question about government-funded honeymoon travel was more than rhetorical: It was later reported that Mnuchin had requested use of a government jet for himself and Linton to travel on their 2017 European honeymoon, but the request had been denied. It was also later reported that between the spring and fall of 2017, Mnuchin had taken eight trips on military aircraft, costing taxpayers $1 million, when he could have flown commercial airlines as had been the practice of his predecessors, and with his wife as his regular flight companion. (Linton recently joked about having been described as the “Marie Antoinette, Darth Vader, and Cruella de Vil” of the Trump administration entourage.)

  • Mnuchin managed to entangle himself in perhaps the most convoluted scandal of the Trump presidency: the Russia affair. As lawmakers left town for the winter holidays last year, Mnuchin announced a decision to undo sanctions against Oleg Deripaska, a Vladimir Putin–aligned Russian oligarch at the center of the Mueller investigation. Special counsel Robert Mueller would find that Deripaska had been promised “private briefings” and had likely been provided Trump internal polling data by former Trump campaign chairman and current federal prison inmate Paul Manafort. But Mnuchin determined that congressionally approved sanctions against Deripaska should be significantly lessened. Mnuchin also reportedly misled Congress about the terms of the deal the Treasury Department struck with Deripaska to cut those sanctions. Mnuchin also failed to address his own conflict of interest revolving around a direct business connection to a top shareholder at Deripaska’s firm. No collusion, though!
  • Mnuchin was accused of using his Jewish identity to help shield the president after Trump said there were “very fine people” among the attendees of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that included participants who wielded flaming torches and chanted neo-Nazi slogans.
  • Mnuchin postponed the Treasury Department’s previously announced move to put abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, reportedly because he understood the change would upset the president, who is a big fan of the current face of the $20 bill, virulent racist Andrew Jackson.

How Long It Has Been Going On: Mnuchin’s abuse of corporate positions of power stretches back at least a decade, as evidenced by the validated charges of foreclosure misconduct against OneWest. He extended his corruption to the public sector the moment he set out to enter government service in late 2016, through his lies and withholding of information during his confirmation process, and began abusing his office in the first months after he’d obtained it. His latest efforts to cover up Trump’s tax returns can be dated at least back to March, when he promised that he would “protect the president” before the request for Trump’s returns had even been made.

What Would Normally Happen: Normally, the president would just hand over his tax returns, as every previous modern candidate had done prior to Trump. Because there’s no precedent for what Trump has done, it’s hard to think of a parallel case and a “normal” response. After the Teapot Dome scandal, Congress tried to solve the problem of the executive branch preventing congressional financial investigations and blocking access to tax returns—in that case, it had been Mnuchin predecessor at the Treasury Department Andrew Mellon who had come under scrutiny—by passing the law saying that the secretary “shall furnish” requested returns. But Mnuchin is simply ignoring that law.

As for Mnuchin’s various conflicts of interest, self-dealing, and ethics lapses, that’s also a highly unusual situation. There’s no real enforcement mechanism on those issues aside from impeachment. As the Times noted of the failure to get his 2018 disclosure certified following the revelations that he had attempted to “divest” one of his investments by “selling” it to Linton:

It is extremely rare for cabinet officials to not have their financial records certified, said Virginia Canter, a former senior ethics counsel at the Treasury Department...

In regard to the apparent abuses of government resources surrounding the $1 million in noncommercial travel, there is some very recent precedent there. Trump’s first health and human services secretary, Tom Price, was forced to resign that job for spending $400,000 on private planes for official business travel. Apparently, though, the norm that abuses of government resources might result in removal from office or resignation only applied to the first couple of Trump Cabinet officials who were caught doing that.

What Democrats Have Done: Issued stern verbal warnings, sent out subpoenas, and gone to court. None of these efforts have accomplished anything so far. Given the breadth and scope of Mnuchin’s abuses, the Democratic timidity in confronting him seems particularly pathetic...

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, tried to vote to overturn the Deripaska sanctions relief with the support of many Republicans, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked that effort. Sen. Ron Wyden, for his part, has been harshly critical of Mnuchin’s various past abusive business practices and more recent violations of federal ethics statutes, but nobody has actually done anything about either of those issues.

As for the tax returns, Neal has taken a route that even many of his colleagues in the generally sheepish Democratic caucus have found to be meek. In May, after Mnuchin refused to hand over Trump’s tax returns as required by law, Neal escalated by issuing a subpoena. A week later, when Mnuchin said he would not be complying with the subpoena, Neal decided not to seek to hold him in contempt of Congress, but instead simply went to court. “I don’t see what good it would do at this particular time,” Neal told CNN, when asked about contempt. “I think that if both sides have made up their minds, better to move it over to the next branch of government, the judiciary.”

...Democrats could play their one big card and initiate impeachment proceedings against Mnuchin. They could also consider exercising their long-dormant inherent contempt powers, perhaps in new ways such as issuing fines, though such fines might be impossible to enforce and also would likely be a drop in the bucket to Mnuchin. It seems unlikely that they will do either of these things...

One thing Democrats might – and should – do about Mnuchin is this: make sure he at least answers for whatever his role might have been in the Ukraine scandal. Mnuchin has said repeatedly that he wasn’t on the call on which Trump pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival Joe Biden (Mnuchin argued against releasing the summary of that call and claimed publicly “it was largely a congratulatory call” before that release showed otherwise). He has, however, said that he was involved in the process of blocking $250 million in military aid to Ukraine while Trump’s pressure campaign was happening. Mnuchin has further claimed “there was no connection” between the military aid being withheld and the pressure campaign to investigate Biden.

If House Democrats have any sense, they’ll subpoena the treasury secretary for documents related to his work on the aid issue and seek to compel him to testify on the things he has already discussed publicly. Do they have any sense? We’ll see!

How Impeachable This Stuff Is: Mnuchin’s involvement in Trump’s scandals and ability to participate in his own personal ones seems nearly unsurpassed in this administration. 8 out of 10”

  1. CONCLUSION

Given the above scandalous history of documented malfeasance of Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, it is mind-boggling hubris and hypocrisy for him to dismiss Adesina’s vindication from petty, mischievous and unfounded allegations, when he himself carries much weightier baggage.

As we bury murdered Black American George Floyd today, in what is hopefully an epochal turning point in race relations, Mr Mnuchin and the US government are urged to lift their knees off the neck of Mr Adesina’s presidency.

The extra-judicial killings of innocent unarmed black men is at epidemic proportions but fewer people are familiar with the intra-judicial and pseudo-judicial schemings that wreck, ruin, sabotage and destroy careers of intelligent and independent-minded minority men of integrity.

As a serial survivor of such sabotage operations myself, my heart goes out to all victims of the invisible “high tech” lynchings. God sees and He knows and repays.

  1. We call on the US to accept the decision of the board of governors of ADB and drop this witch-hunt with an apology to Mr Adesina and the African people subjected to this insidious and condescending charade.
  2. We note at this time that even France that was called out by former AU Ambassador to US, Dr Arikana has begun to reform its predatory neocolonialist central banking and currency holding practices, despite forcing her out of office. Ambassador Arikana should be reinstated and be acknowledged as a modern day reliberator of Africa.
  3. We are confident that unlike obtained in the US, Mr. Adesina who is a principled and godly man will not retaliate against those who availed themselves as willing tools to sully his name. Ultimate vindication and vengeance belongs to God.
  4. Other countries are encouraged to support the President and the institution in serving Africa at a critical juncture of pandemic and global recession.
  • Barrister Emmanuel Ogebe is of US NIGERIA LAW GROUP, WASHINGTON.


Source: News Express

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